Episode 38: This Week, The Pandemic Hit Home

For Jay Goltz, William Vanderbloemen, and Laura Zander, concerns about the pandemic loomed large this week as one of them had to self-isolate in his basement after being exposed to the virus. That fact helped surface a number of interesting questions: Are the three owners being careful enough? What should they tell employees who choose to travel over the holidays? Should employees who travel get paid if local rules require them to quarantine after they return? And if traveling employees do have to quarantine, will these businesses have enough staffers available in December and January to function? And then there was the question Laura demanded of Jay after Jay explained how exactly he was exposed to the virus: “Wait, no,” she said, “You didn't answer my question. Were you wearing a mask?”

Episode 38: This Week, The Pandemic Hit Home

Guests:

William Vanderbloemen is founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group.

Laura Zander is co-founder and CEO of Jimmy Beans Wool.

Jay Goltz is founder and CEO of Artists Frame Service and Jayson Home.

Producer:

Jess Thoubboron is founder of Blank Word Productions.

Episode Highlights:

Laura Zander: “Wait, no. You didn’t answer my question. Were you wearing a mask?”

Jay Goltz: “My wife and kids have paid a price for having a father who is an entrepreneur. They’ve had the benefits of it, but they’ve also paid a price.”

William Vanderbloemen: “The way a lot of my clients say this, Laura, is you work all day as if everything depends on you, and you go to bed knowing it’s all in His hands.”

Full Episode Transcript:

Loren Feldman:
Let’s get started. Laura, last time you were here, you were feeling a little discouraged because you’d found a great new building for your Fort Worth yarn maker. You got SBA approval for a loan, but you’d been through a bunch of banks and hadn’t been able to actually get that loan. Bring us up to date. How are things going?

Laura Zander:
Much better. I’m much more at ease and a lot less discouraged, even though I know I should never be discouraged, because entrepreneurs—according to Jay—don’t get discouraged.

Jay Goltz:
That’s not true.

Laura Zander:
It’s wrong of me to say that.

Jay Goltz:
Sometimes it’s worth getting discouraged. If you launch a new product and it’s not working, there’s a time to go, “It’s not working.” But not when it comes to dealing with banks when you should be able to get a loan.

Laura Zander:
I’m learning which emotions I should have and not have, thanks to this podcast. [Laughter] So what happened was we signed the lease about two days ago on a different place. Just to catch you up, I still had irons in the fire with a couple of different banks, and maybe they would have gone through, maybe they wouldn’t have. I wasn’t discouraged. I was thinking hopefully that it would work out. But the Phase II environmental report came back, and there was some serious contamination and the environmental company said they couldn’t tell us—it could cost $50,000 to fix it, it could cost $500,000 to fix it.

So we went back to the sellers. They didn’t have the money to fix it, so we tried to negotiate a deal with them where we would pay to fix it, but then whatever we paid would come off of the purchase price once we were able to buy it. We would move in, we would lease it, part of our lease money would go toward the purchase price, blah, blah, blah.

We just couldn’t come up with a deal that made sense to us from a risk standpoint. It still put us in a pretty bad spot if the contamination ended up being pretty bad. We looked at adjacent places to see if they had had contamination, and there’s a big company across the highway…

Jay Goltz:
Wait a minute. Just fill in the blanks here. The problem really is: how long have these people owned the property for?

Laura Zander:
Forty years.

Jay Goltz:
That’s the problem. Forty years ago, they weren’t paying attention to this stuff. Had they bought it five years ago, they would have already had to have gotten through this mess. When you buy a property that hasn’t changed hands in years, and there hasn’t been a bank involved, this can happen. I bought a building. There was a gas tank underground, but that’s pretty limited. They took the tank out, all done. But in this case, I think you’re right. This thing could have gone on… Who knows how extensive this is?

Laura Zander:
Yeah, I mean, it was heartbreaking, and I felt really bad for them. Like you said, they bought it 40 years ago, and the awareness wasn’t there.

Jay Goltz:
Maybe the contamination wasn’t there 40 years ago either.

Laura Zander:
Absolutely, one hundred percent. Anyway, so at the same time that we were trying to renegotiate with the sellers, I started to go look for other places and we found a spot that we really liked. Again, took the whole crew, took all the employees over there to see if they liked it. And it actually turned out that a couple of them had worked in this building before for the previous tenant.

But long story short: found this building. It’s a little bit bigger. It’s in a better location, actually. It’s in a safer location. It’s more central. It’s right down the street from TCU, so we’ve got some potential labor pool possibilities there. It’s also close enough to a lot of our employees’ homes that they could even ride their bikes. It’s right across from a school. It’s got good signage for the factory store that we open. The building itself is much bigger at 75,000 square feet, but we would lease 30,000 square feet. The owner was unbelievably generous, a super nice guy, gave us a really good deal…

Jay Goltz:
Because he’s really a nice guy, that’s why he did it—not because the market sucks, and he’s having a hard time renting it. He did it because he’s a nice guy.

Laura Zander:
Absolutely. That’s what I think, right? [Laughter] Well, so we got a good deal, and we got the added benefit of he seems like a really nice guy and really bent over backwards. He owns a bunch of different properties—so many different properties that he has his own construction crew, so they’re able to come in and do a lot of the upgrades that we need, or that we wanted. So that’s a huge stress off of our backs. They’re going to go in, and they drew up plans to create a kitchen for us—that’s an air-conditioned kitchen—which is something that this team has never had before.

I’ve mentioned before, when it’s 100 degrees out, in the kitchen when they’re dyeing yarn, it could be 120-130 degrees. We’ve had a lot of turnover from dyers as a result of that. So now all of a sudden, we’re going to be in a better location, we’re going to have 50 percent more square footage for less per month, and it’s custom-built. We’re gonna have plumbing to each of the sinks, and each of the stations.

Loren Feldman:
Wait, you didn’t used to have plumbing?

Laura Zander:
No.

William Vanderbloemen:
Oh, wow.

Jay Goltz:
And an outhouse?

Laura Zander:
Well, we had plumbing, but not custom, super efficiently created plumbing. Now the way that this will be built, it’s very custom-built for what we do.

Jay Goltz:
How long was this place for rent?

Laura Zander:
That’s a great question. Six months, nine months? I know they just rented the other two spaces. We told him that we really wanted to buy it, so we have something in the lease:, right of first refusal. He’s aware. If that ends up being in the cards for us, then potentially we could buy the building.

Loren Feldman:
I know you were excited about the possibility of buying previously. Are you disappointed that you’re not buying right now?

Laura Zander:
Contrary to what Jay thinks, I do believe that everything happens for a reason. [Laughter]

Jay Goltz:
I was just gonna say, you don’t know what I think. But you are right. I hate that.

Laura Zander:
I know you do.

Jay Goltz:
Things just fall in your lap, and it’s not about any decisions you make. Things just happen. Great.

Laura Zander:
I don’t think that’s true! I just think that if I work as hard as I can possibly work, and I push as hard as I can possibly push, that when one door closes, another door opens.

Loren Feldman:
I want to hear from William on this. This is his area.

William Vanderbloemen:
The way a lot of my clients say this, Laura, is you work all day as if everything depends on you, and you go to bed knowing it’s all in His hands.

Jay Goltz:
Okay, so the answer has nothing to do with the fact that while your other deal was going sideways, instead of sitting around hoping, you went out—because you’re smart—and you kept looking for other options. It couldn’t be because of that, that you were out there making things happen. It couldn’t be that.

Laura Zander:
No, I’m not saying that. I mean,we made this happen. We absolutely made it happen, and Loren asked if I was disappointed that we didn’t buy something. And am I disappointed? Yes. But am I attached to the fact that we wanted to buy something? No. I have to let that go because I did everything that I could to make that happen, and it didn’t happen.

Jay Goltz:
But it’s not just that. You found a situation that might in fact be better.

Laura Zander:
Exactly.

Jay Goltz:
So this was just a good business decision. This guy is going to put a lot of money in the place, custom to what you need. And in fact, this might be a better alternative than buying a building. It’s not about, “Things happen for a reason.” You went out, you found this guy. Good for you, and it works for all parties.

Now my question is, he did the right of first refusal. That’s not the same as being able to buy the building, because if he never puts it up for sale, you can’t. Is there anything there that says at a certain date you have an opportunity to buy the building?

Laura Zander:
Yes.

Jay Goltz:
Okay. Well, that’s different. That’s a good thing.

Laura Zander:
It is. But we may not be able to buy it by that date. We just may not, loan-wise and everything else. If we can’t buy it by that date, then at least we’re still in the mix, just a little bit.

Jay Goltz:
It sounds like you found a good situation for yourself. So to my point, this has nothing to do with what was meant to be. You worked hard. You went out, and while other people would have sat around waiting for that other deal to happen, you covered your bases, you went and checked out some other options, and you found a better option.

Laura Zander:
We did. We didn’t even really have to negotiate, but we asked for the per square foot rate to stay steady for the next five years, and then for it to only increase by 10 percent. So we have two five-year options after the first five years, and he went along with it all.

Jay Goltz:
Wow.

William Vanderbloemen:
Wow.

Laura Zander:
He is nice. And then I said a condition of the lease was that he go to lunch with me twice a year, because he’s a really accomplished businessman in the area. He just seems like a nice guy, so I would like to go to lunch with him.

William Vanderbloemen:
Laura, we’re on the flip side of this. As we’ve discussed in a previous episode, we have more space than we need because we had decided before the pandemic to decentralize our offices and to have regional offices open across the country. Our central office doesn’t need all the space we have, so we’d sublet that half of it out. And the other half, we’d said, over time, the subletter is just going to take it over because their company is going to grow.

Well, the pandemic hits, and that’s all kind of uncertain now. I’ve had unsolicited offers from, quote, really nice people who want to take the lease off my hands. Their offers aren’t even covering the utility bill. And it’s like, “Guys, it’s not that bad yet.” It’s definitely pandemic-driven bargaining that’s going on right now.

Jay Goltz:
The vultures are out flying around, looking for opportunities.

William Vanderbloemen:
Oh my gosh, yes. And some of them really are nice people, but they’re making offers, like, “Guys, no.”

Loren Feldman:
William, how are you doing otherwise? How’s business?

William Vanderbloemen:
Well, it’s all knock on wood, right? France and Germany just shut back down a couple days before we started this recording. It feels like we’re watching Groundhog Day. All I can talk about is what I know at this moment, and at this moment, August of this year outperformed last August. September didn’t quite, but it was close. October looks to be rounding out about the same as last year.

For three months, we’ve had some degree of return to the numbers from last year. Now, every year we’ve been in existence we’ve grown, so even that is a different scenario than I would have planned out. But boy, it’s a whole lot better than March, April, May. If we can hold serve for the rest of this calendar year, I’ll be very pleased. Who knows, right?

Laura Zander:
So most of your customers or clients, are they holding in-person services?

William Vanderbloemen:
I would say most of them are, somewhere in the 70th percentile.

Laura Zander:
Wow. Are they taking any responsibility at all for it not going away, by having all these in-person—are they all wearing masks?

William Vanderbloemen:
I don’t know that we have a single client that doesn’t have extreme precautionary measures in place. It may be that we’re not representative of churches in general. Churches who tend to hire us—and this is going to sound arrogant—but they tend to do things fairly professionally. I mean, they’re hiring an exec search firm and we’re a new idea.

Laura Zander:
Got it.

Jay Goltz:
There’s something to that, for sure.

William Vanderbloemen:
I think they just tend to do things right. Our largest gatherings that are happening are in places like Southern California, where it’s 72 and sunny and you can do it all outside, or you can have drive-up. They’re finding ways to do it. Nobody’s having huge crowds. I think the highest numbers I’m hearing are like 50 percent of this time last year’s attendance, and the more normal thing is 30 to 40 percent.

But the other reality, Laura, is most churches—Protestant churches in the U.S.—have been stagnant or in decline for 30 years. My mother’s church is a great church. They usually have 200. They’re not meeting yet. They’re in a hot spot. But their sanctuary could hold 400 easy, so whenever they go back, they could have a normal Sunday and only be at 50 percent capacity. It’s a little silver lining to the long slow decline in a whole lot of churches that’s been going on, but the spaces are big enough.

Laura Zander:
They’re socially distancing, just naturally.

William Vanderbloemen:
Yeah, and as you would guess, the big question mark is: what do we do with kids? And that’s the puzzle everybody’s trying to figure out. They’re going back and finances are good. Our client base has shifted quite a bit where very large churches hire us to do a whole lot of staffing for them. Then the other half of our work is normal-sized churches looking for a pastor. Now, normal-sized churches looking for a pastor is far and away the most prevalent thing we’re doing, and the larger churches are just kind of having to press pause until they’re meeting again.

I think we pivoted—although I’m exceedingly tired of that word—toward that reality fairly quickly. And then hopefully, when we’re on the other side of this, whether that’s this time next year or whenever, the people who have hit pause will come back. They’re not closing. We’ll have increased our ability to reach different kinds of organizations.

Jay Goltz:
Yeah, the question becomes: how many times can you pivot before you end up right back in the same place you started in? [Laughter]

Laura Zander:
That’s funny. Oh Jay, you’re so wise.

Loren Feldman:
Jay, how about you? You usually call into this podcast from your office. You’re in a different location today. Where are you?

Jay Goltz:
I’m in my underground bunker. I’m at home in my basement because someone that I work with tested positive, and I’m just being ultra… We’re following all the guidelines, so I’m at home, and the fact is, I don’t do that much there anyway. I can do it at home. And I just can’t emphasize enough that you can’t be too careful with this stuff.

Loren Feldman:
What was the situation? Tell us what happened.

Laura Zander:
Wait, you tested positive?

Jay Goltz:
An employee brought her son to work who’s 20, and—I’m kind of torturing myself that I should have told her, “Don’t bring him into work.” He wanted to talk to me about something, and we were in a room together, and we were across the room—definitely spaced away. And she tells me two days later he tested positive. I can’t emphasize enough, this is like, “Well, I wear my seatbelt usually.” Or, “Well, I only went out drinking one time.”

All of our lives, especially if you own a business, or even if you don’t own a business, all it takes is that one extra drink at a restaurant when you shouldn’t have drove, or that one time you didn’t wear a seatbelt, or maybe you put an extension cord on your heater at work and you shouldn’t have, and you forgot to turn it off and it burned your building down. It’s just extremely frustrating that—

Laura Zander:
Were you not wearing a mask?

Jay Goltz:
I was across the room from him. I mean—

Laura Zander:
Wait, no, you didn’t answer my question. Were you wearing a mask?

Jay Goltz:
No. I’m guilty as charged. I don’t know what to tell you. I’m guilty as charged. I’m guilty as charged. I wear the mask all the time, except this time, he was totally across the room, like 20 feet away.

Laura Zander:
Did you get tested?

Jay Goltz:
I’m getting tested. I feel fine. But the reality is—I’ve done some research—40 percent of the people who have it are asymptomatic. And I have to tell you, when you’re sitting at home, God help you if you’re watching 24-hour cable news all day long, I don’t know how you don’t just…

Loren Feldman:
I would recommend against that, Jay.

Jay Goltz:
Well, I was watching South Park episodes from 15 years ago.

Loren Feldman:
That sounds better. How about other employees? Did anybody else have contact with your employee’s son?

Jay Goltz:
Not really. He came in with her. I said this to my managers: “We’re going to have to suspend the Jay Goltz rule of 42 years that the customer [rule], ‘Do whatever you need to, they’re always right,’” because at this point… A customer wants to come in without a mask, we’re not letting it happen. And if the customer’s mad at us because we couldn’t deliver something—I have to expect there might be some service failures here, because someone’s taking off regularly these days because they found out their cousin who came over had it. At any given moment, there’s usually somebody who’s sitting at home, because we’re being careful, and I’ve had to just accept the fact that—

Laura Zander:
Are you paying them when they sit at home?

Jay Goltz:
Yeah. First of all, there’s the government thing where they reimburse, but in one case, he already took that—

Laura Zander:
Oh, really?

Jay Goltz:
Yes, yes.

Laura Zander:
Oh, I need to do that.

Loren Feldman:
Is that a federal thing or a state thing?

Jay Goltz:
I think it’s federal. You can take it out of the payroll tax or something.

Laura Zander:
Oh, that’s right. I forgot about that. Yeah, because we’re always down two, three people because of somebody’s husband, somebody’s kids.

Jay Goltz:
Right, and it tries your soul.

Loren Feldman:
Jay, didn’t you have an employee who went to a motorcycle—

Laura Zander:
Nooooooo.

Jay Goltz:
Yeah, well, here’s the story. He’s going on a motorcycle thing, my oldest guy. And I go, “Do you really need to?” “Oh, we’re gonna be wearing masks and blah, blah, blah.” I said, “Okay, but you’re gonna quarantine.” So he goes on it. He quarantines. He comes back. He tells me this week that his 32-year-old friend that went on it with him died. Left two kids and got it and died from it.

Laura Zander:
Wow.

Jay Goltz:
So talk about, “Oops.” And like, I understand that people get it, but for anybody to suggest that—it’s certainly not most people who die from it. It’s a small percentage, but any percentage is too much.

Laura Zander:
It happens.

Jay Goltz:
It happens. So he’s sick to his stomach now, and you know, it’s just difficult. Here’s the new thing in Chicago. Anyone that goes to Wisconsin, Indiana, all these states, you’ve got to quarantine. Well, this isn’t perfect, because if somebody went to visit their father who’s living by himself in an apartment and only went to see him in Wisconsin, they’re supposed to quarantine. But then somebody who went to their friend’s house with eight college friends, they don’t have to. This is clearly not a perfect thing or even close to perfect. It’s clearly a shotgun approach of trying to stop this stuff.

But all I’ve decided—and believe me, I’ve had long conversations with my key managers—we’re clinging on to, “We’re going to follow the city of Chicago rules, as imperfect as they are. We’re gonna follow the rules.” And that’s all we can do. And yes, somebody could argue, “Well, I just went to Wisconsin.” I got it, but the second you start making adjustments for it…

Loren Feldman:
Jay, are you concerned about that with the holidays coming up?

Jay Goltz:
Absolutely.

Loren Feldman:
Are you gonna have to keep track of who goes home or wherever?

Jay Goltz:
Yeah, this was the whole conversation with my managers. They are going to want to go home for holidays. I can’t tell people, “You can’t go home for the holidays.” And we’re just gonna have to say, “You’re gonna have to take two weeks off during my busiest month of the year,” which is why I say I’ve accepted that fact. If someone goes home for the holidays and they self-report, which is what we asked them to do, I’m going to have one screwed up December with not having enough employees there.

If there’s ever a moment in time—maybe this is the first moment in 42 years of being in business that truly highlights the difference between being the owner and the employee. As the owner, you’d like to go, “Really? Could you not look out for the business some? It’s our busiest month, and we really need the business. And can you not?” You know what? I don’t feel comfortable doing that. And at the end of the day, those who want to go home and they’re going to get quarantined for two weeks, what am I going to do? They’re not slaves.

Laura Zander:
You’re gonna pay them for the quarantine time?

Jay Goltz:
Well, they’ve got the federal rule. They’re going to get it. Yeah, this is the reality, and I’m not going to be cynical and go, “Oh well, gee, what do they have to lose?”

Laura Zander:
Don’t go.

Jay Goltz:
I got it, but they can go home for the holiday, and then they get two weeks off that they get paid. Not a bad deal. Now, I’m not suggesting they’re going to do it for that reason, because I really do have good, honorable employees—trustworthy, whatever you want to call it—but do I think that they’re going to put the business first over going to see their family?

Laura Zander:
Do they have work that they can do from home?

Jay Goltz:
No. The ones who are working from home… I haven’t seen my controller for four months, literally. I mean, the people who can work from home are already working from home. But I’m a retailer. Someone comes into my business, and they actually expect someone to walk up and say—with a mask, and everyone’s wearing a mask—“Can I help you?” It’s the first time in all these years I’m just kind of helpless. Like, I’m gonna do everything I can, but I am going to have some service failures in December. And then to add insult to injury, now someone can go on Yelp and go, “Oh, that place. No one came and greeted me at the door.”

Loren Feldman:
William, you’re not a retailer, obviously. Maybe the stakes aren’t as high, but are you at all concerned about employees traveling over the holidays?

William Vanderbloemen:
You know, we haven’t given it a whole lot of thought, and we probably should. In a normal year, January is when we get slammed because church staffs are under this crazy impression that when the new budget year arrives, they have “new money,” whatever that means. It’s fine, because they start hiring people. So January is usually a very busy month for us, and if we had to send everybody home, it wouldn’t cripple us, but it wouldn’t be great. I think the agility our team showed during March, April, May, has reassured me that if we had to go virtual for a period of time, it wouldn’t cripple our business.

Loren Feldman:
Laura, are you concerned?

Laura Zander:
I’m with William, in that I actually haven’t given it a ton of thought, because I’ve had so much other stuff going on. But now that you mentioned it… Wow, thanks a lot.

Jay Goltz:
That’s what Loren does. He finds the stuff that we weren’t thinking about.

Laura Zander:
Can I worry about it next week? [Laughter]

Jay Goltz:
I’m giving you permission to take a vacation from worrying about that until next Thursday. Let’s say next Thursday.

Loren Feldman:
Permission granted, Laura, but you mentioned that you’ve had two or three people out at a time already, so this is already on your radar.

Laura Zander:
In Texas.

Loren Feldman:
Oh, just in Texas.

Laura Zander:
Just in Texas, yeah. So in Nevada—actually, in Reno—we’re going to open our retail store for the first time now, I think on Saturday, next week. We’ve had our retail store closed the whole time. We haven’t had anybody out. In terms of people going home, everybody is from here, so there’s nowhere to go. That’s not a big deal.

Jay Goltz:
Every single person who works for you is from there.

Laura Zander:
Pretty much. Probably 95 percent?

Jay Goltz:
Wait, wait, wait, that doesn’t change anything. Think about it. It’s not about traveling. It’s just that they’re going to the relatives’ house with 12 other people. It’s not about being from Reno. It’s a matter of, they’re going to Thanksgiving dinner with 12 people.

Laura Zander:
We have two very different cultural groups. In Reno, 98 percent of the staff is so freaked out by this that they don’t even pick up food. Like, they don’t go out to eat.

Jay Goltz:
Wow.

Laura Zander:
Yeah, they’re mostly millennials, and they’re very, very hyper-conscious. There’s no partying, and there’s no group things. Most of them are friends. Most of them came to work as friends already, so they’ve kind of created this little pod.

Loren Feldman:
And in Texas?

Laura Zander:
In Texas, it’s very different. Granted now, a lot of the employees are related, so they do all intermingle all the time, both personally and professionally. As far as going home, I think probably a number of them are going to go back to Mexico, where they have extended family. That’s something we’re going to have to address.

To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about—I’ve been so focused on us moving into a new building and us being so far behind. Sales in Texas have just gone through the roof. The demand has gone through the roof. I mean, we’re booked up through the end of January already, and so we’re over capacity. And we’ve, like I said, we’ve had two or three people—

Loren Feldman:
Laura, that’s great. Why is that? What changed?

Laura Zander:
Well, knitting is popular.

Jay Goltz:
Not just that. People are home with nothing to do.

Loren Feldman:
But that’s been true for a long time. It sounds like this is more recent. Did you do more marketing, or …

Laura Zander:
I’m hoping we’re just doing a better job. Today is our one-year anniversary. So we bought this business exactly one year ago.

Loren Feldman:
Wow. Congratulations.

Jay Goltz:
How about this theory: how many times do you come to work in your office and find someone knitting at their desk? I’d say never, right? Now they’re working from home. And some people—I know, this is a crazy thought—but there are actually some people that are working from home that are taking some knitting breaks, and they’re knitting some stuff.

Loren Feldman:
And some people are watching South Park, Jay.

Jay Goltz:
And some people are watching South Park, yes.

Laura Zander:
Yeah, and you knit during meetings. I mean, we happen to knit during meetings in person, because that’s our business. But now people are probably doing it when they’re on Zoom. We also have a full-time sales rep now, and he’s probably brought in 50 percent of our business. I mean, it’s been unbelievable. Now we have a couple of other new employees, one who lives in Denver, another blah, blah, blah. Our team is just really coming together.

Jay Goltz:
Does that guy actually come into your office?

Laura Zander:
Yeah, we actually all went to Texas last week.

Jay Goltz:
So this guy has been all around the country and then he brings with whatever and you actually sat in a room with him with masks on.

Laura Zander:
Yeah.

Jay Goltz:
Wow.

Laura Zander:
Then we had one girl come in from New York City. We had somebody come in from Denver. Nobody’s hugging, nobody’s high-fiving, nobody’s sitting next to each other. Everybody’s got masks on. We’ve got the hand-sanitizer all over the place. You know, we’re just trying to do our best.

Loren Feldman:
You know, we just hit an all-time high for cases yesterday.

Laura Zander:
Yeah.

Jay Goltz:
And there’s plenty of testing that’s not going on, so as much as it’s hit a high mark, like I said, there are tons of people out there who are walking around with it and don’t even know it.

Laura Zander:
I would say our experience though, from the testing standpoint, our employees are getting tested all the time. And it’s now it’s gotten down to like a two-hour turnaround.

Loren Feldman:
Are you paying for that? Is that something that you initiated?

Laura Zander:
We are not explicitly paying for it. But we’ve always offered to people that we will pay for it if they can’t. But if somebody in their family gets it, then they have to get tested before they can come back to work. We had one woman who got tested, had it, got tested seven days later, had it still, got tested another seven days, still had it. Another three days later got tested and had it. But in Fort Worth, it’s really nice because they give you your results within two or three days—I mean, two or three hours.

Jay Goltz:
See, I’ve been told those tests aren’t that accurate, the two-hour ones. That seems to be a well-accepted fact that those tests are not as accurate.

Laura Zander:
But anytime anybody sneezes, they’re going out and they’re getting tested. I’ve actually been impressed at how much people are going out and getting tested.

Jay Goltz:
All we can do is do the best we can. And it’s taken the word frustration to a whole new level.

Loren Feldman:
Jay, I don’t mean to depress you too much, but I called you over the weekend and you were already in your basement at that point. And I interrupted you—you were working on your list of things people should do should you not be available to run the business.

Jay Goltz:
Yeah, I don’t mind talking about that. I have to tell you, I recognized that if I dropped dead, it would be a very, very messy situation. I’ve got a lot of things in the air. And I typed out—I already had it typed up, but I went and updated it—as to what some thoughts are as to how to do things, what to do with money, what to do with the business, what to do with the real estate, and—

William Vanderbloemen:
I’m so proud of you, Jay. We talked about this in a previous episode. Yes, everyone needs an emergency succession plan. Even if it’s just for 14 days of me being in bed.

Jay Goltz:
It’s not just succession. It’s a lot of other stuff. I’ll be specific: do not use the phrase, “Dad wouldn’t have wanted us to do that.” I don’t want anybody to be walking around with this guilt thing of, “Oh my God, Dad’s turning in his grave.” I don’t want anybody to have that responsibility, because here’s my perspective. My wife and kids have paid a price for having a father who is an entrepreneur. They’ve had the benefits of it, but they’ve also paid a price. And I’ve paid a price. There are times like now that being a business owner is very difficult and we have responsibilities that most people do not have.

I do not want to carry it on to the next generation. I don’t want my kids to have to have this thing hung around their neck. “Well, they never really wanted the business, but you know, Dad died, and I had to take it over.” And they end up not doing what they want to do.

Loren Feldman:
Laura, have you thought about what would happen to your business if you were incapacitated for a time?

Laura Zander:
No, because I don’t think I contribute that much. I’m like, “I don’t know. It’ll be fine.”

Loren Feldman:
You don’t contribute that much…

Laura Zander:
I don’t! What do I do?

Loren Feldman:
That’s why you’re in Texas every two weeks.

Laura Zander:
Well, yeah, I’m just eating barbecue and watching TV. No, but that’s a great point. That’s a really, really great point.

William Vanderbloemen:
I would add, since everybody’s sitting around reading, one of the very best books I’ve read about succession is called Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business. It is invaluable if you own your business and if you have family—those two things—then you need to get a copy of that. I get no kickback for saying that. It’s just a phenomenal little book that’ll get you asking the right questions.

Jay Goltz:
I mean, that’s the question. Is that the legacy of family businesses, that when the owner finally dies—this guy who started it or the woman who started it—is that what the legacy has to be, that things have to get messed up? Because I’vegotta tell you, it frequently does.

William Vanderbloemen:
Yeah, there are very few that go past second gen.

Jay Goltz:
Thirty percent.

William Vanderbloemen:
Third gen’s a mess. Third gen is usually the train wreck, and then if you can make it past that, you’re in very rare air. I mean, I think Smucker’s is on their fifth gen. I think Nordstrom is on their fifth gen. I don’t know any large companies that still have families running the business—maybe not owning the whole thing—that are to fifth gen.

Jay Goltz:
Just getting to the second generation, only 30 percent do.

William Vanderbloemen:
That’s right.

Jay Goltz:
The next generation’s another 30 percent, which means that only 9 percent get to a third generation. And I’m saying, “Okay, then the business doesn’t get past you.” Maybe that’s okay. Maybe that’s okay.

William Vanderbloemen:
Yeah, maybe so.

Jay Goltz:
Don’t mess your family up for some quote-unquote legacy that you’ve got in your head. Anyway, I already had it written out, but I updated it. In my case, there’s no perfect thing here. I’m working on it. I’m always working on it. But it’s not easy.

Loren Feldman:
We’re running short on time. I want to acknowledge something, which is that this episode is going to be published on election day. We avoid talking about politics on this show, and I want to keep it that way. But I’m curious, have any of you been planning anything different? Have you been holding off on anything to wait and see what the outcome is? Or is it just another day for your business?

Laura Zander:
For us, it’s just going to be another day. We may, privately as a group, celebrate one way or the other, or mourn, but that’s it.

Jay Goltz:
I’m just putting that in the category of: whatever. Nothing I can do to control it.

Laura Zander:
And that’s where we’re at.

Loren Feldman:
And no plans that you feel you need to make or decisions you need to make?

Laura Zander:
No, I mean, it’ll be nice if the tariffs go away, but that’s whatever. I can’t control it.

William Vanderbloemen:
For us, the election, I’ve got red churches, blue churches, purple churches, rainbow churches, every kind of church. The who-gets-elected, to me, is not nearly as important to our business as that somebody gets elected. The angst that—if you’ve seen the movie, The Perfect Storm, it’s when three different storms came together, and you know, it was the end of George Clooney—that’s kind of the recipe that a lot of people who are leading Christian schools and churches are facing right now.

They’ve got a pandemic that we really don’t know what we’re doing with, and you can criticize responses, but unless you were alive 102 years ago, you don’t really have anything to base your response on. So, whatever. You’ve got civil unrest that’s rooted in a whole lot of racial tension, and then you’ve got this election that, frankly, polarizes the two dogs in my house. They have different opinions. The pressure that all three of those at the same time is creating is leading it—probably seven out of 10 of the pastors I interact with are about six inches away from quitting. I think getting one of those three pressure points off will be an enormous help.

Jay Goltz:
I am 100 percent with you on everything you just said, including, you used the word that is a new word in our vocabulary that my doctor used with me: “angst.” That’s the new word. I suffer from angst. And I agree 100 percent with what you’re saying. We just need to get this election done. That’ll be one little thing off of us at least, or one big thing.

Laura Zander:
Yup, some certainty.

Loren Feldman:
For a lot of people, I think the biggest concern is that the election could drag on. Or at least, determining the winner could drag on for weeks or even more.

Jay Goltz:
There you go, Loren. As usual, you’ve outdone yourself. You’ve brought that one last piece in that we should be worried about. Thank you!

Loren Feldman:
My thanks to Jay Goltz, William Vanderbloemen, and Laura Zander. As always, guys, thanks for sharing.